THE HIGH ROAD
A group of protesters from the 1970s serves as a reminder of how long we’ve known about the severity of air pollution — and how little we’ve done about it.
Bad Air Days and What to Do About Them
I woke up this morning to discover that here in northern California the air — delightfully fresh for a few days — has once again been declared unfit for humans due to wildfire smoke. But bad air isn’t confined to fire zones; worldwide it is responsible for 4.2 million deaths a year and countless illnesses. Cars, power plants, factories, and food production are the biggest culprits, according to the World Health Organization; residential cooking, heating, and lighting are contributors. Which means we can do plenty to help clear the air.
• If you have a car, maintain it. Get regular tune-ups, keep tires fully inflated; you’ll improve gas mileage and reduce emissions.
• Waste less electricity. Switch off unnecessary lights, buy compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, use fans instead of air conditioners whenever possible. Install surge protectors and switch off groups of appliances, eliminating the constant energy trickle of standby mode.
• Avoid paper and plastic shopping bags. Producing paper bags generates more air pollution than making plastic bags. And plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Carry washable cloth bags.
• Do laundry in cold water. Yes, even your COVID masks; experts say cold water is fine unless you’ve been heavily exposed (say, caring for someone with the virus) in which case you’ll want to use hot water to be extra safe.
The High Road
I think most of us have run through the same range of Trump-related reactions over the last week… the tax I-told-you-so, the debate outrage, the covid schadenfreude. As Frank Bruni said in the New York Times: “I couldn’t help thinking, too, about karma, and I immediately felt petty for that.”
Joe Biden has taken the opportunity to model our best responses to the news of the president’s illness: “This is not a matter of politics...It’s a bracing reminder to all of us that we have to take this virus seriously. It’s not going away automatically. We have to do our part to be responsible.”
After All These Years...
GiveGreen: Performance and Conversation with Paul Simon
I wrote Paul Simon a fan letter in 1983. Today, over 37 years later, Paul finally wrote me back—to invite me to a League of Conservation Voters fundraiser in support of pro-environment senate candidates. You can check it out too. I’m sure Paul wouldn’t mind; after all, he and I go way back. —K.S.
Don’t Drink the Water
The Atlantic: Erin Brockovich Wants to Know What You’re Drinking by Amanda Fortini
“Let me be the first to tell you that life takes an interesting turn when your name becomes a verb.”
Making the Cut:
The Hill: Trump administration finalizes plan to open up protected areas of Tongass National Forest to logging by Rachel Frazin
The plan would endanger 168,000 acres of old-growth forest.
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